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Purely Egyptian Moments: The Officer, the Flower Man and I ألحاظ مصرية محضة: الضابط وصاحب الورد وأنا

A couple of times a week as the sunsets and the call to the maghrib prayer softly resonates over Cairo, I am drawn to a nearby flower kiosk across from the Bulgarian ambassador’s residence. There, I sit on a dust covered crate of empty Coca-cola bottles amongst gaudy flower arrangements and discarded sunflower seed shells under haze of cheap cigarette smoke.

It is tea time in this sliver of Cairo. Taking a break from his twenty-four hour shift at the flower shop, Abd el-Allem fires up the butane and sets the kettle of water to boil while Abu Hussam – also in the midst of a twenty-four hour shift – wanders over from his guard shack across the street. Sharing the same work schedule of twenty-four hours on and forty-eight hours off, Abd el-Allem and Abu Hussam have shared tea every third night for longer than I have walked the face of the earth. Six months ago, however, in a queer twist of Egyptian hospitality, their duo became a trio. Keep Reading

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“Purely Egyptian Moments”: The Morning Commute لحظات مصرية محضة: الرحلة اليومية الصبحية

After nearly a month-long hiatus, it’s back to the blogosphere…

Despite minor cultural and linguistic differences, daily life in Cairo has become routine – albeit lacking in sleep – over the past month and devoted to fighting a losing battle against the accumulating articles in my GoogleReader, the acquisition of Arabic vocabulary – specifically learning eight different words for fear and five different verbs for “submitting to” – and releasing my frustrations on the dough of my latest baking experiment.

The being said, I have discovered – after some reflection – that however ordinary and routine daily life has become as an Arabic-obsessed, sleep-deprived, ex-patriot news junkie living in Egypt, it is now without its moments of pure Egyptian brilliance. As a result (and in an effort to make sure the blog is not neglect for another month), you are cordially yet coercively invited on a journey of my daily “purely Egyptian moments”. Keep Reading

Why I do what I do…لماذا أفعل ما أفعله

Writing. Throughout junior high and high school, I used to hate the word, the action, and even the thought of it. Now older (and one hopes wiser), I’m come to recognize its value as not only a means of communication but also a means of forced reflection. (I hope this post accomplishes both these ends.)

It is not uncommon that when meeting for an Egyptian for the first time my knowledge of the Arabic language becomes a prominent topic of conversation. After the surprised complements on my linguistic proficiency and the brief exchange of pleasantries, the question is dropped: Why do you study Arabic? Keep Reading